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Health Beat #18 | 3 decades and 6 ministers: How is SA’s healthcare system...

From struggles and scandals to feats and forward thinking — South Africa’s health system has seen it all over the past 30 years. In this month’s Health Beat, we ask public officials, activists, health workers, legal experts and ordinary citizens to look back on how things have changed — and what it means for the future of healthcare in the country.

‘I’m a smoker — and I want stricter tobacco control’

Civil rights activist Koketso Moeti has been smoking for over 20 years. Yet she supports South Africa’s new Tobacco Bill, which bans indoor smoking, including vaping, in public buildings. Here’s why.

What’s 95% safer than tobacco? Not vapes, say experts

More and more studies are showing that vaping is not harmless and that electronic smokes should be regulated the same way as traditional cigarettes — and governments are getting on board. A lung health expert from the University of Cape Town tells Mia Malan why in the February edition of Health Beat, Bhekisisa’s monthly TV programme.

Why is TB called the ‘disease of paper’ in Eastern Cape villages?

The words we use to describe diseases tell us more about how people experience living with it. The isiXhosa word for tuberculosis, isifo sephepha, is a case in point. Understanding where it comes from can help to break down the stigma around the disease.

Does SA’s biggest killer show up in your party’s manifesto?

A curable and preventable disease is South Africa’s biggest killer. Is your political party going to do something about it — and does it show up in their election manifesto?

[VIDEO] Here’s how e-cigarettes turn juice into clouds

When e-cigarettes were first tested by cigarette smokers, there were complaints about them being too smooth. So propylene glycol was added to give users that harsh hit at the back of the throat they were used to. A lung doctor explains why the clouds of smoke that accompany vapes aren’t clean steam, but chemicals.

[WATCH] Why some parents are led to think e-cigarettes are healthy (they’re not)

“We are not saying tobacco should be banned,” says Tshweu Mosedi, an anti-tobacco activist who wants to keep e-cigarettes away from kids. He supports the new Tobacco Bill that will restrict vape marketing and sales. The Health Beat team meets Mosedi in Katlehong on Joburg’s East Rand, where fruity flavours and flashy adverts have tricked youngsters and parents into believing that e-cigarettes are healthy.

A huff and a puff: Could nicotine pouches put an end to smoking?

Dive into the world of "upper deckys" and "Zynbabwes”. Nicotine pouches have sparked a global sensation, hailed by some as the future of tobacco cessation. Yet, behind the catchy nicknames and promises of harm reduction lie the exploitation of legal loopholes and questionable science. What’s really the deal?

Health Beat #16 | Why the upcoming Tobacco Bill treats e-cigarettes like smokes

Are e-cigarettes healthier than traditional smokes? The vaping and tobacco industries would have us believe that they are, but doctors and researchers are sceptical. We find out why young people are getting hooked on nicotine-enhanced fruity flavours — and break down the potentially deadly consequences.

A race to the bottom: Does SA’s new tobacco Bill have enough teeth to...

Tobacco ads have been banned in many countries for years, but Big Tobacco is finding ways to get around the rules — like partnering with Formula 1 to punt their new products to a global audience. Could South Africa’s new tobacco Bill put an end to racing on our screens?

On our mind: Could getting hit on the head during sport cause brain disease...

Head injuries from sport could be linked with someone developing brain disease later, says new guidance from experts. They’re calling for more time during games for players to be checked thoroughly — which could mean rules of play may have to change.

Up in smoke: The Black tobacco farmers British American Tobacco left behind

Some small-scale black tobacco farmers in Limpopo feel that the tobacco industry supported them under the guise of an upliftment programme, but then used them to fight against illicit tobacco trade. By 2021, the financial support dried up.

Bhekisisa Spaces

Bhekisisa Twitter Spaces are online sessions that allow our readers to engage with experts, policymakers and activists on prevalent health issues. The world’s biggest HIV...

‘She can’t discern jam from Vaseline’: Advice for the children of Alzheimer’s patients

In South Africa, a gene test that will tell you if you’re at risk for Alzheimer’s disease costs R3 600. But major organisations warn people against using these home kits without also getting counselling to help them work through the results — regardless of the outcome.

Three health ministers in a row have failed SA’s nurses. Here’s why

The health department got close to updating nurse prescribing rules in 2011, but didn’t follow through. Real change will have to happen soon since South Africa’s new HIV and TB strategy document says professional nurses have to help to prescribe antidepressants for 250 000 people by 2028.

[LISTEN] The world’s biggest HIV & TB programme has a new goal: Happiness

What do researchers, experts and policymakers think of South Africa’s new five-year action plan for HIV, TB and STIs?